To me America’s greatest period was when it was wild. I suppose it reminds me somewhat of us Afrikaners participating in the Great Trek.
As someone who subscribes to the Darwinian themes of survival of the fittest and natural selection, I believe both the Great Trek and the conquering of the West were the last periods for our respective cultures to experience this real life. Our finest moments. For people who share this view, I recommend reading Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry. You can also watch the outstanding Lonesome Dove mini-series.
The saddest thing about these events, specifically in the West, is how conquering led to destruction. The first and most obvious example is the Indian culture. These people were proud hunter/gatherers that lived responsibly and nobly off the land. Now they are a broken people and many of them live off governmental and casino bribes. I don’t just blame the Settlers for this, the Indians are as guilty. But it is nonetheless very sad.
It wasn’t only the Indians though. Most of the wildlife was decimated. Never again will the Bison herds roam as they did. Grizzly bears, mountain lions, wolves and coyotes were almost totally wiped out. Now it seems that many other smaller species were wiped out. The US has truly got some of the most glorious natural beauty, but to me it always feel a bit empty with no real wildlife.
In Coyotes, Don Edwards sings a very sad, but beautiful song about this very thing.
We Africans can learn from the mistakes that the Americans made. We still have an opportunity, but the door will be closing if we don’t act decisively.